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Rescuers reach lost skier

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on Dec. 30, 2007 at 2:16 pm with No Comments »
December 30, 2007 2:16 pm

An update from Olympic National Park:

Park rangers reached Randy Kraxberger at 1 this afternoon at the summit of Hurricane Hill after skiing several miles through three to four feet of fresh powder snow.

Kraxberger spent last night in a snow cave on the slopes of Hurricane Hill after becoming disoriented in blizzard conditions yesterday while skiing.

Despite his unplanned overnight stay, he is in good condition and after some food, will ski back to Hurricane Ridge accompanied by his rescuers.

When rangers last spoke with Kraxberger by cell phone this morning at 11:00, he was able to provide additional details about his surroundings.

Rangers gave him instructions to make a large "X" in the snow using his skis and tree branches in order to make his location more obvious to ground searchers or a possible rescue helicopter.

In addition to six rescuers on skis, a Coast Guard helicopter from the U.S.

Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles had joined the search after weather and visibility briefly improved.

Randy Kraxberger, 53 years old, is from Port Townsend, Washington. Known to be experienced in the outdoors and physically fit, he became disoriented in the Hurricane Hill area during yesterday’s high winds, heavy snow and poor visibility.

Twelve rescuers searched last night until about midnight, primarily along the Hurricane Hill Road, using whistles, lights and sirens in attempt to attract Kraxberger to safety. Two rescuers tried to ski beyond the road’s end onto the Hurricane Hill Route, but were turned back due to blizzard conditions and hazardous avalanche conditions on the slopes.

Kraxberger spent last night in a snow cave that he’d built and when he spoke with rangers by cell phone this morning at 8:00, he was cold but in good condition.

Avalanche danger is rated as high today and remains a major concern for rescuers and support personnel. Several slides have crossed the Hurricane Ridge Road and have been observed elsewhere in the area as well. The Hurricane Ridge Road was closed all day due to weather and avalanche conditions.

About a dozen park staff, ten volunteers from Bremerton-based Olympic Mountain Rescue, employees of the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club and personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles participated in the search and rescue effort.

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